“North & South: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 22: Mrs. Shaw’s Farewell Dinner Soiree Finds Fanny with Competing Suitors, January 23, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #505)
[I will illustrate my story using my dream cast from the 2004 BBC production of “North & South”: Richard Armitage for John Thornton, Daniela Denby-Ashe for Margaret Hale, Lesley Manville for Mrs. Maria Hale, Tim Pigott-Smith for Mr. Richard Hale, Sinead Cusack for Mrs. Hannah Thornton, Jo Joyner for Fanny Thornton, Brendan Coyle for Nicholas Higgins, and Graham McTavish as Dr. Cameron Ogilvy, Holliday Grainger for Angharad Ogilvy MacIntosh, Simon Woods for Baird Ogilvy, Emma Ashton as Mrs. Dillard, and John Light as Henry Lennox, etc] [(1) story logo image]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons” is a story with mature themes of love and relationships set within a period drama of the 1850’s and beyond. As such there will be heartfelt moments of love and sensuality (S)–as well as other dramatic emotions, including some violence (V)–and I will rate those chapters accordingly. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s Recap of the Previous Chapter: John & Margaret and Hannah and Cameron have enjoyed the last two weeks in Milton–without having to moderate their schedules to suit Hannah’s daughter and John’s sister, Fanny. Whereas Fanny has become better acquainted with Dr. Ogilvy’s son, Baird Ogilvy, through luncheons, teas, and museum outings. However, the time is near for Fanny and Mr. & Mrs. Hale to return to Milton. So their hostess, Margaret’s Aunt Shaw–her mother Mrs. Hale’s sister–plans to host a farewell dinner soiree for them. However, the dinner will have some unexpected outcomes.
“North & South: John Thornton, Love Lessons”, Ch. 22: Mrs. Shaw’s Farewell Dinner Soiree finds Fanny with Competing Suitors
Mrs. Shaw’s dinner soiree at the close of the next week arrives swiftly. The household is aflutter on Thursday ay, January 16th as Mrs. Shaw gives a farewell social dinner for the Hales and Miss Fanny Thornton who will leave for Milton the following Monday. Mrs. Shaw feels that the evening will do her sister Maria good to have some of London society come to her. And truth be told, Fanny is agog to see whom among the famous personages that Mrs. Shaw invited will be in attendance. For London engagements are all about being at the best party–so guests and hostesses tend to jockey for position.
It turns out that a minor MP (Member of Parliament), a Mr. Smythe Skeffington, is the political component for the evening. Mrs. Shaw feels that no soiree is complete without someone in government in attendance–however far from actual power and influence they might be. But it is the up and coming authoress Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell [(2) right ] who attends Mrs. Shaw’s dinner soiree that catches Fanny’s attention. Mrs. Gaskell has recently begun serializing her story Cranford [(3)] in a magazine by no less personage than Charles Dickens as her editor–with her story planning to be published in book form later. Cranford is a charming rambling tale about small town life and the people in it–spinsters, young lovers, old gossips, and such. So for an early effort Cranford is not bad at all.
And the Cranford story is well within Fanny’s realm of what she considers enjoyable literature. For Fanny, reading enjoyment hinges upon a story having whimsical or humorous characters and riveting but easy to follow plots. And since Fanny has graduated from reading penny dreadfuls [(4)] and moved onto what might be considered more literary tales by Jane Austen and others, Fanny is delighted that Mrs. Gaskell is at the dinner. Therefore, Mrs. Gaskell is the prize guest of the evening. Though, Fanny will discover that there is also another prize being sought this night.
Fanny begs Mrs. Shaw to seat her next to the increasingly famous authoress. Mrs. Shaw relents, but in moving her seating chart around to accommodate Fanny’s request, that means that Baird Ogilvy sits at the other end of the table away from Fanny. So he does not get a chance to converse with her during the meal. And, unfortunately, Henry Lennox [(5) right], Edith Shaw Lennox’s brother-in-law, is also in attendance at the Shaw dinner and sitting on the other side of Fanny.
However Henry’s interest in Fanny is suspect at best–his motives are mostly to be close to Margaret through a possible marriage to Fanny. And Henry reasons that if he must marry someone, it might as well be Fanny Thornton–who is passably attractive to him, though he does not believe that she meets the standards of beauty and grace in which he holds Margaret in such high esteem. So while Baird Ogilvy [(6) right] secretly seethes from a distance at the loathsome display before him, Henry annoyingly fawns over Fanny to attain his goal, being closer to Margaret Thornton.
Henry: Trying to draw Fanny away from Mrs. Gaskell, Henry asks Fanny at dinner. “Miss Thornton, I hear that Milton is rather full of soot and grime–even to rival London’s meanest areas–due to the many mills that inhabit the surrounding community.”
Fanny: “Oh yes Mr. Lennox, it can be a filthy dirty place. And the sound of the weaving looms is deafening. I don’t know how the people who work there stand it?” She shakes her head.
Mrs. Gaskell: “Really, Miss Thornton. Please tell me about it. I’m working on a new love story about a man of business from the North falling in love with a genteel woman from the South. It’s about a culture clash and social upheaval with a happy ending.”
Fanny: “Oh my word! That sounds like my brother John and his wife Margaret. The Hales are her parents.” She gestures to Mr. and Mrs. Hale sitting at the other end of the table and they nod at Mrs. Gaskell. “They came from the rural South.” Fanny looks back at Baird, who is also sitting at the other end of the table–and she smiles at him, for he is smiling at her. “Do you have a name for your story yet?”
Henry Lennox pouts to have Fanny’s attention taken away by the evening’s honored guest.
Mrs. Gaskell: “Not yet. Presently, I just refer to it as North & South [(7)]. But I shall have to think of a more captivating and descriptive title than that. Maybe Love with the Cotton King?” Fanny scrunches up her nose. “No my dear? I agree with you. That doesn’t sound right either. I will have to reflect upon it.”
Henry Lennox: Sensing his opening, Henry tries again. “Miss Thornton, if novels are what you’re interested in, there is a reading by the author Charles Dickens [(8)] tomorrow night. I would be delighted to escort you.”
Fanny: “Really? I haven’t heard of him. Has he written something interesting?” Fanny wonders [(9) right].
Mrs. Gaskell: Mrs. Gaskell interjects animatedly. “Dickie is my editor. He wrote a short novel called A Christmas Carol [(10)] published eight years ago. Have you never heard of it, Miss Thornton?”
Fanny: “Is that the story with the mean man and the ghosts?” Fanny asks none too adroitly.
Mrs. Gaskell: “Ha ha ha! That’s the one! Oh my dear, Dickie would die laughing to hear you describe it thus! Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Fanny: Fanny winces apologetically. “I mean no disrespect, Mrs. Gaskell. It is just that I read so many books that they get jumbled together for me sometimes.”
Lennox: “You sound almost like a scholar with all of your reading, Miss Thornton.” Henry attempts to flatter Fanny in order to ingratiate himself with her. But Henry’s frozen smile belies and true sincerity on his part.
Fanny: Fanny turns toward Mr. Lennox again. “Oh no, Mr. Lennox. My brother John is the scholar. He and Mr. Hale talk all the time about dead philosophers and such when he comes to visit John at our home, Thornton Manor. But I wonder, why these philosophers are so important if they are dead? Shouldn’t living philosophers be more important? At least those you could actually argue and debate with them–rather than having fake debates with the dead ones. They’re currently reading something that sounds like a carriage, the phaeton, or something.” Then she thinks better of characterizing her brother’s and Mr. Hale’s discussions so cheaply. So, Fanny sings out with cheerful affection to the far end of the table. “My apologies Mr. Hale at my simplistic understanding of your scholarly discussions.”
Mr. Hale: “That is quite alright, my dear. And John and I are reading and discussing, Plato’s The Phaedrus” [(11)]. He winks at her. For Fanny with all her amusing mixups at times is a good girl, as Mr. Hale likes to say. Him being a retired parson, Mr. Hale tends to think kindly upon others–whether they deserve it or not.
Fanny: “That’s it!” Fanny smiles winsomely and shrugs her shoulders for her mistake.
Baird smiles at Fanny’s charm even in mistaking a philosophical discussion for a carriage. He could not be more besotted.
Mr. Lennox: Trying once more to gain Miss Thornton’s attention, Henry asks Fanny pointedly. “So Miss Thornton, might I enjoy your company at the Dickens reading tomorrow evening?”
Fanny: “Well, I am not sure.” Fanny replies haltingly.
Fanny turns and looks uncertainly at Henry Lennox. She has only met him this evening. And though she knows that he is Edith’s brother-in-law, Fanny is hesitant to accept his invitation. There is something about Mr. Lennox that is off putting to Fanny. She can’t name it, but she finds it to be a deterrent to her liking him. Fanny looks longingly at the other end of the table where Baird Ogilvy sits transfixed gazing [(12) right] at her. She blushes.
Mrs. Gaskell: Mrs. Gaskell leans toward Fanny, and taps her arm to get her attention again. “Miss Thornton, if you are concerned about being chaperoned, my dear, you and Mr. Lennox may both my attend the reading as my guest and we will meet Dickie afterward at the reception.”
Fanny affects a courteous smile since she must decline Mrs. Gaskell’s kind invitation because it includes Mr. Lennox. Though Fanny would dearly like to go if Baird were her escort.
Fanny: “You are very kind Mrs. Gaskell, and Mr. Lennox. But I feel that I must consult with Mr. & Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Shaw before accepting any engagements. I do not know what they have planned in our waning days in London.”
Fanny is trying to gracefully excape from attending the event with Henry Lennox. Maxwell Lennox notices Fanny’s discomfiture.
Henry: “Well we are all sitting here. Let us ask them now.” He puts Fanny on the spot and she blanches.
But just as Henry turns to Mrs. Shaw at their end of the table, his brother Maxwell sitting across from him intervenes.
Maxwell: “Henry, leave it.” He swishes his hand in the air. “Miss Thornton is right to wish to consult privately with her temporary guardians about the matter.” Then he turns to Mrs. Gaskell. “Mrs. Gaskell, we trust that you will understand that Miss Thornton and Mr. and Mrs. Hale are here for family time and they will soon be leaving us. So although we are showing them London culture and society at its best, everything cannot be accomplished with one visit.” Mrs. Gaskell nods with a small smile of acquiescence.
Henry: “But Maxwell…” Henry whines.
Maxwell: Maxwell holds up his hand as if to dismiss his younger brother’s entreaties. “If Miss Thornton wishes to see more of London, we will welcome her for a future visit.”
Fanny: “Thank you Captain Lennox.” She smiles gratefully to him. For Fanny usually has her brother John around to ease her out of uncomfortable situations–except he returned home to Milton with his wife Margaret over two weeks ago.
Edith Lennox sitting toward the other end of the table notices that everyone seems to have stopped eating their desserts.
Edith: Edith smiles her best hostess smile. “If everyone is finished, shall we ladies remove ourselves to the parlor and leave the men to their brandy and cigars?” She asks pleasantly.
Fanny nods relievedly. She has felt like a shuttle cock being batted to and fro by Henry Lennox and Mrs. Gaskell–with her feathers getting knocked off in the process.
The men stand out of courtesy as the ladies charmingly rise from their chairs in unexpected unison–with flounces of hoopskirts being unfurled from their dining table confines. Then the ladies glide gracefully past the men at the table. Fanny looks cordially at Baird as she passes him–and spontaneously, they both reach out and clasp their hands together briefly. They have not had a chance to be alone together since their lovely museum visit a few days ago. In fact, tonight is their fourth family engagement together and they feel very cordial toward one another. However, Henry Lennox notices the brief hand clasp between the Fanny Thornton and Baird Ogilvy and Henry quietly fumes with jealousy.
Maxwell Lennox presides over the gathering of men remaining in the dining room that includes his brother Henry, Mr. Hale, Baird Ogilvy, and the MP Mr. Skeffington. They all take a moment to sip their brandy’s and puff on their cigars–with Mr. Hale doing neither as a person with temperate behavior. And Baird also does not imbibe nor inhale either.
MP Skeffington: “This is a most excellent brandy, Mr. Lennox. And a finer cigar I have not had elsewhere. Where did you procure it?”
Maxwell: “Thank you Mr. Skeffington. The cigar was imported from the West Indies…” [(13)] “… through a ship captain acquaintance of mine.”
Henry: Sulking, Henry hisses. “Oh? And I thought that you were in the army and not the navy, Maxwell.”
Maxwell: Maxwell glowers at his younger brother. “Military men are brothers in arms, Henry. If you had served your country, you would understand that concept.” Maxwell chides his brother through clenched teeth.
Of course, the mention of the British navy is sorrowful for Mr. Hale due to his son Frederick being under a sentence of death and in exile in Spain due to his mutinying when their ship captain brutalized the crew. But Mr. Hale smiles wanly, masking his pain.
Baird: “I have always wanted to travel beyond these shores. Maxwell, I would be interested in hearing more about your experiences abroad.” Baird states interestedly.
Henry: “You would.” He snaps.
Henry intended to give offense, and he has.
Baird: “And what do you mean by that remark, Sir?” Baird asks stridently.
Mr. Hale: Seeking a diplomatic solution, Mr. Hale intervenes with a sober countenance [(14) right]. “Gentleman, perhaps we should not leave our ladies to languish without our company.” He stands. “Shall we?”
Then Mr. Hale shoots a knowing glance at Maxwell who nods at him and also stands. Then Baird, Henry, and the MP stand. The men walk toward the hallway door and thence to the parlor to rejoin the ladies. Baird is tense, but puts on a polite face for the rest of the congenial company.
Maxwell Lennox decides to take matters into his own hands as the de facto head of the Shaw-Lennox household–since Mrs. Shaw is a widow. So as the men file out, Maxwell takes his brother Henry aside to speak to him privately. Maxwell believes that his brother Henry is insincere about his interest in Fanny and calls him on it privately, hoping that his brother will cease his errant behavior.
Maxwell: “Henry, what are you playing at with Miss Thornton? She already has enough beaux to satisfy her. You would be number three.” He says snidely.
Henry: “Whom I choose to pay my addresses to is none of your business, Maxwell.” Henry sneers.
Maxwell: “Oh but it is my business, Henry. Not so long ago you were bereft that Margaret had married John Thornton–claiming that you would never love another. So I find it suspicious that you are now interested in Thornton’s sister. I don’t think so.” Maxwell’s eyes narrow in assessing his brother’s behavior this night.
Henry: “What of it? If I can’t have Margaret, if I marry Miss Thornton, then I could at least be close to Margaret.”
If Henry hopes to elicit his brother’s sympathy, he is sadly mistaken.
Maxwell: “No, Henry.” Maxwell says with a finality of tone indicating the he will not brook refusal.
Henry: “No?” He bristles.
Maxwell: “No. Please cease making overtures to Miss Thornton. She is a lovely girl–whose interests like elsewhere.” And, of course, Maxwell is also thinking about Baird Ogilvy who has clearly indicated an informal interest in Fanny.
Henry: “You mean with that Scotch.” Henry hisses derisively.
Maxwell: “That Scotch, as you call Mr. Ogilvy, is the heir to the earldom of Airlie. And he should be referred to as Lord Ogilvy by you and I, Henry.” Then Maxwell impresses upon Henry the consequences he will suffer if he does not desist. “So if you want to retain your living stipend from me, little brother, you will redirect your attentions and your behavior immediately.”
For though Henry does make a tidy living as a lawyer, the living stipend from his wealthy brother Maxwell provides him some luxuries that he could not otherwise afford–such as keeping a London mistress whom he visits twice a week. Though Henry does not reveal to his brother that is what he uses his stipend for.
Henry: “You wouldn’t? But we are brothers, Maxwell.” Henry stammers for his brother taking someone else’s side than his.
Maxwell: “I will. And if you value our relationship as brothers you will heed my counsel on this matter.” Maxwell intones sharply.
Henry: “Very well.” Henry agrees grudgingly as he looks away from his brother.
Maxwell: “Good! And I am sorry that you have to leave early this evening, Henry. I will make your apologies to the others.” Maxwell smiles pointedly at his brother.
Henry’s head jerks up in surprise at and shock at his brother Maxwell summarily dismissing him. But Henry knows when he has lost a battle, and he concedes defeat with a shrug of his shoulders. Then Maxwell escorts Henry out his front door with great satisfaction, before rejoining the ladies in the parlor.
Meanwhile, the other men have already joined the ladies in the parlor. And Baird Ogilvy makes a beeline for Fanny Thornton.
Baird: “Miss Fiona, I feel adrift. I have been languishing without your society this evening.” He gushes.
Fanny: “Well, we can’t have that. Now can we?” Fanny smiles at Baird coquettishly. “I was just going to play Aunt Shaw’s piano forte. Would you be kind enough to turn the pages for me?” She asks him cheerfully.
Baird: Smiling broadly, he sighs. “With pleasure.”
So Fanny begins playing Frederic Chopin’s [(15a)] Nocturne, op. 9, no.2 [(15b) video] in a lilting way. Fanny is no artiste, but her playing is a lovely as Baird smiles approvingly at her.
Maxwell enters the parlor and instantly goes to his wife Edith’s side as she stands in front of the piano with her mother, Mrs. Shaw.
Maxwell: Maxwell whispers into his wife’s ear. “It is done. Henry will no longer be a bother to us–or to Fanny and Baird.”
Edith: “That’s a relief! I don’t know what Henry was about at dinner.” Edith whispers back to him over her shoulder. Then she looks around the room. “Where is he?”
Edith is worried that Henry will reappear at any moment. Mrs. Shaw also looks up questioningly at her son-in-law.
Maxwell: Maxwell smiles cordially and speaks sotto voce to his wife and mother-in-law so as not to intrude upon Fanny’s lovely playing. “Edith, Mother, I fear that Henry has an early business meeting tomorrow and he begged to be excused.” Maxwell smiles as one who has righted his world.
Baird overhears this good news, and he smiles also–never taking his eyes off of Fanny. Apart from Baird’s own personal interest in Fanny, he had a bad feeling about Henry Lennox. And that was warranted. But for Maxwell Lennox’s intervention, this evening might have ended much less pleasantly.
Mr. and Mrs. Hale and Mr. Skeffington and Mrs. Gaskell walk over and join the Shaw-Lennox’s standing in a semi-circle around Fanny playing at the piano with Baird turning the pages for her. When Fanny finishes playing the musical composition, she gracefully lifts her hands above the keyboard, then she clasps them demurely in her lap and looks up hopefully to everyone for their assessment.
Mrs. Gaskell: “Oh my dear, that was simply lovely!” Everyone claps most approvingly.
Fanny beams with this praise from their honored guest and others.
Edith: “Indeed, Fanny, your playing far exceeds my meager talents.” Maxwell nods his agreement–that Fanny plays charmingly, not that his wife plays poorly.
Mrs. Shaw: “Very nice Fanny, dear.” The Hales and Mr. Skeffington also smile in concurrence.
Fanny: Fanny turns and looks up at Baird still standing by her side. “And you, Baird? What did you think?”
Baird: Overcome with Fanny’s beauty and accomplished playing, he manages to say one word that conveys his deeply felt thoughts on both subjects. “Exquisite!” He sighs.
Fanny: Fanny blushes. “Thank you.” Then she turns to everyone with the bright smile of sincere gratitude. “Thank you all for your kind words.”
Baird: “Please play anotherrr song forrr us, Miss Fiona.” He asks her beseechingly.
And that is everyone’s wish. So Fanny selects another classical piece before playing some folk tunes that she had purchased this past week that they can all sing to. Their musical evening is a lilting close to a lovely gathering of old and new friends and family.
The following day, Maxwell and Edith nonchalantly let slip to Fanny what Henry’s real motives were for paying his addresses to her the night before–and that Henry will not be visiting them again soon. Fanny is livid–more so that Henry prefers someone other than her, not that she preferred Henry. Fanny was not agreeably disposed toward Henry Lennox and is even less so now. So Fanny is very glad that Maxwell masterfully curtailed his brother’s further interactions with her during the few remaining days of their stay in London.
Fanny also receives a brief note from Baird Ogilvy that same day on Friday morning–emphasizing how much he enjoyed seeing her again last night. So with Fanny Thornton and the Hales set to return home to Milton on Monday, January 20th, the weekend prior to their departure becomes a whirlwind of engagements between Fanny Thornton and Baird Ogilvy. Baird is invited to luncheon each day. And then Friday afternoon, Fanny and Baird go on a zoo excursion with Edith and Fanny and Maxwell again as their chaperones and culminating in taking tea at the MacIntoshes again. Saturday, the ladies have one final shopping excursion with their men carrying their parcels–and Fanny quite enjoying using Baird as her parcel carrying companion. A service that Baird is also delighted to render to her. Then the Shaw-Lennox-Hales-Thornton-Ogilvy-and MacIntosh’s all have a much less stressful extended family dinner Saturday night–sans Henry, of course.
And Baird and Fanny get to know each other even better when Fanny joins Baird’s family for luncheon one last time after church on Sunday. Fanny and Baird are becoming true friends–maybe more than friends–as they sit chatting alone together in the MacIntosh’s parlor after lunch, while Angharad and Alistair put the children down for their naps. There is a shyly awkward silence between Fanny and Baird, which has been a rare occurrence their last several days of close proximity.
Baird: Then Baird bridges the silence with an honest and heartfelt statement–as his sincerely admiring countenance reflects [(16) right]. “I will miss you when you rrreturrrn home to Milton on Monday, Miss Fiona.” And he will, truly.
Fanny: Fanny smiles shyly. “And I will miss you, Baird.” Fanny gazes at Baird wincingly [(17) right]–already missing him, for they will not see each other this evening and she and the Hales leave on the early Monday morning train for Milton. “I have made ever so many new friends during our stay in London–between Edith and Maxwell and Aunt Shaw, and now you and your sister Angharad and her family–that I will feel quite bereft without you all.” Fanny makes no mention of Henry Lennox because she does not consider him as a friend–nor even as an acquaintance.
Baird: “Of courrrse.” He smiles. “But then, yourrr frrriends in Milton will be glad to see you rrreturrned home to them.”
Fanny: “I suppose.” Fanny purses her lips in uncertainty. “But my friends in Milton are different somehow.”
Baird: “Differrrent? How?” He asks quizzically.
Fanny: “I can’t explain it. It is just a feeling I have. Or maybe, I am different in Milton than I am in London. You all have broadened my outlook and accepted me as I am–flawed though I may be.” She shrugs her shoulders.
Baird: “I see no flaws in you, Miss Fiona. I see only a charrrrming lady with a zest for life that is rrrefrrreshing.”
Fanny: “Charming?” She blushes shyly.
Baird: He nods his head while gazing at her tenderly. “You have charmed me, Miss Fiona.”
Fanny has particularly worn her pink and blue silk plaid day dress today in honor of Baird’s Scottish heritage. Baird both notices and appreciates her gesture.
Fanny: “Hhhhh! I would stay in London forever, but for missing Mama.” She winces. Because for all of her mother’s stern looks and strict rules, Fanny knows that her mother loves her.
Baird: “You love your motherrr verrry much.” He says tenderly, while remembering his own dear Mama who died five years ago.
Fanny: Fanny nods. “Yes. And I hope that she likes the new dresses I bought. However, they are a bit more modern than what she usually dresses me in. So I hope that she will let me keep them–and wear them.” Fanny looks at him hopefully.
For the main currency of Fanny’s relationship with her Mama as she grew up has been in Fanny’s Mama outfitting her with new dresses and trinkets that they could not afford when they were poor. Yet Fanny is more than her Mama’s pampered child, she is Hannah Thornton’s cherished daughter. And each gift is a treasured memento for Fanny and her Mama.
Baird: “Miss Fiona, I underrrstand that you want yourrr Motherrr’s apprrroval. But at yourrr age, ye should also think about pleasing yourrrself.”
Fanny: “I know that, Baird. But I am such a silly girl, that Mama quite tells me what to do sometimes. She even suggested Watson as a suitor. I would not have thought of him, myself. But he is the richest of all the mill owners. So, perhaps, Mama thinks that he is an eligible match.” Fanny sighs forlornly and pouts.
Baird blanches slightly in concern that Fanny seems to have allowed herself to be guided into a relationship with this Watson, despite her seeming indifference to him. Baird feels that Fanny has been kept on a tight rein by her mother. But not wanting to intrude upon Fanny’s relationship with her mother–lest Fanny take offense at his officiousness–he treads lightly.
Baird: Squeezing her hand in his, he suggests. “Miss Fiona, everyone eventually finds their own way in making decisions for themselves. Sometimes ourrr decisions arrre mistakes–and we learrrn frrrom them. But it is making ourrr own decisions, that we become whom we arrre meant to be.” He encourages.
Fanny: She smiles shyly at him. “Yes, but with respect, it is different for a woman than it is for a man. We women live by our parents’ rules and choices–and then we marry and we live by our husband’s rules and choices. The decisions that fall to woman pertain mostly to our homes and to our children.”
Baird: “Yet from your cradles do men and women of great deeds and thoughts spring. It is women and mothers who shape young lives–and thereby, they shape our society.”
Fanny: Fanny looks at Baird in astonishment. “Do you really believe that, Baird? That women matter so much?”
Baird: Taking both of her hands in his, Baird speaks softly. “I do. Women matterrr most of all in ourrr society.” Then he takes a breath. “And you matterrr above all else to me, Miss Fiona.” He lifts each of her hands to his lips and kisses them.
Fanny: Fanny blushes in wonderment at Baird’s heartfelt declaration–her seeing Baird in a wholly new perspective in relationship to herself, one that she has not dared to allow herself to hope for. “I matter to you, Baird?” She smiles.
Baird: “You do.” His eyes smoulder his love for her. But he must yet temper his love’s expression–for she is a young lady, unschooled in the world. And he is a gentleman. Baird stands up from the sette, then he kneels before her. Fanny could not be more astonished. “Miss Fiona, ye have charrrmed me out of my complacency about life. I was busy and purrrposeful, but always forrr otherrrs–taking no time forrr meself, not thinking about the futurrre. But now, I drrream of a futurrre that will only be fulfilled if you arrre by my side in life–as my love, and as my wife.” He tenderly squeezes her hands in his hands. “I love you, Fiona Thornton. Will you marrrry me?” Baird exhales expectantly for having revealed the depth of his feelings to Fanny at last.
Fanny: “Ohh, Baird!” Fanny is silent, too stunned to speak further–for fear of saying the wrong thing,which she often does.
Baird: “Might I take your rrresponse to mean that you do not wholly rrreject my suit of you?”
Baird smiles and looks at her hopefully, patiently. Patience is a strong suit of the men in Clan Ogilvy.
Fanny: “Yes!” Fanny sighs and nods ever so slightly as she shyly looks up at Baird and she smiles. She searches her heart and finds the answer to his question. “I love you, too, Baird Ogilvy. Yes, I will marry you.”
The moments tick by as they gaze wonderingly into each others’ eyes. It is a moment of delicious anticipation as they look forward to beginning a new life together. Baird leans imperceptibly toward Fanny. She does not back away.
Then as Baird’s face looms nearer to Fanny’s face, she closes her eyes–waiting for his kiss, her first kiss. Baird still gently holds both of Fanny’s hands in his. He wants desperately to take her into his arms to kiss her with all of the passion that his feels for her. But he does not want to scare her with his loving ardor. So he slowly lowers his face to hers and he gently brushes her lips with his lips with soft kisses. Their contact is petal soft, sweet and innocent–just like Fanny is for Baird.
But their kiss gives rise to deeper feelings as the contact of their lips moving together in soft kisses is electric. And Baird wants nothing more than to cradle Fanny’s head in his hands and to deepen their kisses. But he knows that he must temper his ardor. So he lifts one of his hands to her face and he strokes her cheek with his finger as he slowly guides her face to tilt upward. And then he more firmly fits his mouth to her mouth–moving his lips in fluttering kisses that become more tender as she instinctively leans in to him and lightly places her hands upon his shoulders. Fanny is entranced, bewitched by the allure of Baird’s loving ministrations. No one has ever shown her such cherishing tenderness before. And Fanny feels such stirrings within her that make her respond to his kisses, with her own tentative kisses for him.
To have his love, Fiona, respond to his kisses is a joy that Baird had not dared hope for until now. Their tender kisses are full of promise of their lifelong love. Baird gently puts his arms around Fanny and draws her closer to him–he still kneeling and she still sitting. Fanny does not object to this heightened intimacy of embracing while kissing because she is quite swept away by their kisses.
And with each moment that passes, Baird feels like he is teetering on a precipice of desire–wanting to bind her to him in the way that a woman cleaves to a man–but knowing that he cannot waver from respectful restraint or risk losing her forever. So Baird must keep Fanny safe from his lustful impulses until they are wed. And then he will patiently guide her into such loving communion that no other couple has felt before.
Baird senses the rightness of their being together with a future as partners in life and in love, as husband and wife. There will be a time for them as unrestrained lovers once they are wed. So Baird reluctantly slows his kissing of Fanny and he joins her on the sette. Then Baird loosely wraps his arms around Fanny’s shoulders and he reverently kisses her forehead. Fanny smiles contentedly and nestles her head onto his shoulder–her hand lightly lying upon the top of his vest, her fingers tentatively touching the tails of his cravat. Fanny feels safe and loved within Baird’s arms–she trusts him completely. And he will honor her trust.
Fanny and Baird sit quietly in tender solicitude of one another for nearly a quarter of an hour, until the clock strikes five o’clock and Fanny must return to the Shaw-Lennox home. But the larger question looms before them. What now? Baird lives and works in London and Fanny lives in Milton. Will they have to part so soon after realizing the depth of their feelings for each other? They do not know if they can say farewell when it comes time for Fanny and the Hales to return to Milton on the morrow, on Monday. Or, they wonder, if there is another way that they can be together?
To be continued with Chapter 23
“N&S: JT Love Lessons”, Ch. 22 References, January 23, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #505)
1) “N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons” story logo: Richard Armitageas John Thornton and Daniela Denby-Ashe in the 2004 BBC period drama North & South, was found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode3/ns3-110.jpg ; For more information about this wonderful 2004 BBC miniseries adaptation of Elizabeth’s Gaskell’s story North & South, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_&_South_%28TV_serial%29
2) Portrait of novelist Elizabeth Gaskell her 41st year in 1951 is by George Richmond was found at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b0/Elizabeth_Gaskell.jpg/438px-Elizabeth_Gaskell.jpg; For more information about the English novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Gaskell
3) For information about Mrs. Gaskell’s early work Cranford, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cranford_%28novel%29
4) For more information about Penny Dreadful stories with outlandish and fantastical plots and characters, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penny_dreadful
5) Henry was portrayed by John Light in the BBC 2004 drama North & South epi1 (10h57m49s22) Jan1214 GratianaLovelace Cap crop-mask
6) Baird Ogilvy image (masked background, sized) is Simon Woods as Charles Bingley in the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice found at http://image.hotdog.hu/user/Angelinna/magazin/Pride-and-Prejudice-2005-pride-and-prejudice-2005-32212524-264-400.jpg
7) North & South, authored by Elizabeth Gaskell and published in 1854, is the love story of how two people from different backgrounds come to know, understand, and appreciate each other. Set against the backdrop of the industrial revolution, North & South is also a commentary upon worker employment and living conditions. For more information, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_and_South_%281854_novel%29
8) For more information about the English writer Charles Dickens, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Dickens
9) Fanny is Jo Joyner in North & South epi 2 (17h04m18s189) Dec2213 Gratiana Lovelace Cap-crop-sized-delaced-clr
10) Charles Dickens novella,A Christmas Carol, was published in 1843; for more information, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Christmas_Carol
11) “The Phaedrus (/ˈfiːdrəs/; Greek: Φαῖδρος), written by Plato, is a dialogue between Plato’s main protagonist, Socrates, and Phaedrus, an interlocutor in several dialogues.” For more informaton, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phaedrus_%28dialogue%29
12) Baird Ogilvy image (aspect, sized, drkn) is Simon Woods as Charles Bingley in the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice found at fanpop.com http://images5.fanpop.com/image/photos/25000000/Mr-Bingley-pride-and-prejudice-men-25086484-200-200.jpg
13) The West Indies is now known as the Carribean; for more information, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caribbean
14) Mr. Hale was portrayed by Tim Pigott-Smith in the 2004 BBC drama North & South epi1 (10h55m05s157) Jan1214 Gratiana Lovelace Cap-crop-sized-brt
15) a) For more about the composer Fredric Chopin, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fr%C3%A9d%C3%A9ric_Chopin ; b) and “Chopin – Nocturne op.9 No.2” an audio recording video by andrea romano http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9E6b3swbnWg
16) Baird Ogilvy image (aspect, sized, crop, drkn) is Simon Woods as Charles Bingley in the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice found at myscarlettlady.onsugar.com http://media.onsugar.com/files/ons1/530/5303518/40_2009/image_0.jpg
17) Fanny Thornton was portrayed by Jo Joyner in the 2004 BBC drama North & South (11h03m52s71) Jan1214 Gratiana Lovelace Cap-crop-sized-brt
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